Rural round-up

30/08/2021

Produce having to be thrown away – Molly Houseman:

Rodger Whitson has had to start throwing away perfectly good produce as the reality of being a small business owner during lockdown sinks in.

He owns Janefield Paeonies and Hydroponics, which operates from his 4ha property just outside Mosgiel, growing lettuce and herbs, as well as strawberries and paeonies when they are in season.

Usually, that fresh produce is sold at the Otago Farmers Market and to select restaurants and cafes.

‘‘We only grow half a dozen product lines and good quality. We have got a really good customer base on the farmers market, and the few restaurants and cafes we deal with keep it niche,’’ he said. . .

Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Crop fed to cows in Northland as farmers’ markets closed – Peter de Graaf:

Some Northland food producers are being forced to feed valuable crops to cows because Covid restrictions have closed the region’s farmers’ markets.

Several growers spoken to by the Advocate have been lucky with the Delta outbreak coming just as they were between harvests.

Others, however, have been hard hit with no let-up in costs or work, but no income apart from the wage subsidy, which doesn’t fully cover staff costs.

One Northland egg producer is giving everything to a foodbank — a boon for struggling families but a blow to their own incomes — while one spring onion grower has reportedly been forced to plough in an entire crop. . .

No change to level 4 setting – Hort NZ – Sudesh Kissun:

Horticulture New Zealand says it has now been officially advised by the Ministry for Primary Industries that the settings for this Alert Level 4 are the same as those used last year in Level 4.

However, because this strain of Covid is far more virulent, more precautions need to be taken, it says.

There is no requirement to register with MPI as an “essential business or service”.

You will be considered a Alert Level 4 business or service, if you are one of the following: . .

Leader of the pack living best life – Sally Rae:

Surrounded by her much loved team of working dogs — plus pet miniature schnauzer Mickey — casual shepherd Kate Poulsen reckons she is literally living the proverbial dream. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about the career she has chosen in the rural sector.

Lockdown doesn’t really mean much is different for Kate Poulsen.

The 25-year-old East Otago casual shepherd is doing a lambing beat at Goodwood “tucked away out of it”, which really was not much different from usual.

For her line of work meant that she was often working by herself and, as far as she was concerned, as long as she had her dogs with her then it was “business as usual“. . .

Delay planned fires until after lockdown :

Farmers and lifestyle block owners in the Otago and Southland regions are being asked to avoid lighting fires until lockdown is over, to reduce risk to firefighters.

Southland’s principal rural fire officer Timo Bierlin says even well controlled burns will cause issues at present, because people see the smoke and dial 111 in the belief they are reporting an escaped fire.

Brigades will always turn out to 111 calls and have the protective gear and procedures to do this safely.

“But we would like our firefighters to stay safe in their bubbles and not have to respond to avoidable fires just now,” says Bierlin.

Deaf sheepdog learns sign language to round up sheep – Cortney Moore:

A senior sheepdog has learned sign language for herding.

Nine-year-old Peggy, a border collie from the U.K., lost her hearing and was handed over to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to South West News Service.

However, Peggy’s luck took a turn for the better when she crossed paths with Chloe Shorten, the British news agency reports.

Chloe, who is an animal welfare manager at the RSPCA’s Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch in Norwich, England, provided Peggy a place to stay and access to much-needed training. . . 


Rural round-up

28/06/2020

One billion . . .  wilding pines – Rachael Kelly:

Is this simply the dumbest waste of Government money to be spent in New Zealand?

The Government has committed $100m​ dollars to tackle wilding pines infestations during the next four years but under the One Billion Trees Fund, it’s also paying for the invasive species to be planted in the first place.

In Southland, a trust that has worked hard to eradicate wilding pines has written to Government ministers asking why they allow, under the fund, the planting of wilding species.

The Mid Dome Wilding Pine Trust has spent more than $10m​ clearing wilding contorta pines from northern Southland since 2007. . .

Farming vs Forestry: carbon credit  policy ‘idealistic’ :

The Government’s carbon credit policy is “idealistic” and missing “the big picture” says Mike Cranstone.

“Allowing an overseas fund manager to use our productive land to grow carbon credits – that’s like cutting off a finger of our productive hand,” the Whanganui Federated Farmers president and hill country farmer told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Cranstone was also not a fan of giving up profitable sheep and beef land to forestry.

“Let’s have the government set the incentives and the policy to actually encourage farmers to think about their marginal land and plant that”. . . 

Govt underestimating Labour shortage – National :

The government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing, according to National’s ag spokesperson David Bennett.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage,’ claims Bennett.

“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.

“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake. . .

Farms rich family heritage recognised – Molly Houseman:

A Taieri farm, owned by the same family for 150 years, has been given a New Zealand Century farm award.

Despite the cancellation of the usual awards dinner due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Janefield farm and its rich family history did not go unnoticed.

The 220ha farm is owned by father and son Ian and Simon Bathgate.

To be considered for the award, an application including photographs and documents supporting the farm’s history had to be submitted. . .

Selling makes no sense when you’re living the dream – Hugh Collins:

The drive between Arrowtown and Queenstown contains arguably some of the most sought-after high-country land in the South Island.

With no shortage of wealthy developers moving into the area in the past decade, many would be adamant the region’s rich farming days are numbered.

But for Malaghans Rd farmer Chris Dagg, it would be a cold day in hell if he ever chose to sell his 404ha sheep and beef farm beneath Coronet Peak.

“I’ve had countless people say ‘why don’t you just sell and go sit on a beach?,” Mr Dagg said when asked about selling. . . 

Pig farmers feed million bees in wildlife project :

Two pig farmers have succeeded in feeding one million bees after participating in a project that saw them turn over half their land to wildflowers.

Four years ago brothers Mark and Paul Hayward decided to farm 33ha – the equivalent of 83 football pitches – in the most wildlife positive way.

This involves planting nectar-rich blooms around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, Suffolk with the aim of embracing a sustainable way of farming. . . 


Rural round-up

17/05/2020

Forest Owners brace for avalanche of clipboards in government measure:

The Forest Owners Association says the industry anticipates an unacceptable and pointless bureaucratic cost to all parts of the forest industry, if the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill becomes law.

The bill was introduced into Parliament last night and will go to the Environment Select Committee early next month.

The Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says the first details forest growers saw of the scheme was when it was introduced last night.

“The government speakers in its first reading debate seem to think that giving a certificate to someone who buys and sells logs, is going to lead to more logs being processed in New Zealand and not exported.” . . .

Agriculture a difficult issue in US – Uk trade negotiations; what a surprise – Point of Order:

London’s Financial Times reports on a struggle within Britain’s cabinet on how much to cut farm tariffs in any US-UK trade deal.  It’s not the most edifying reporting – and the economics are even more questionable.

Of course, there’s always artificiality in the briefing of intra-government squabbles.  Political slogans predominate and reporters struggle to present the real views of ministers who can be incapable of understanding, let alone articulating, the underlying economic arguments.  But here the gap between presentation and reality is truly remarkable.

Britain’s international trade secretary is negotiating with the US government on a post-Brexit trade agreement and apparently wants to offer tariff cuts on food imported from the US.  These are reported as ‘concessions’. . .

In it for the long haul – Colin Williscroft:

The Absolom family farm has the next generation in mind. They want their Hawke’s Bay property to be with their family in at least 100 years so take a long-term approach to everything they do. Colin Williscroft reports.

Brothers Daniel, Jeremy and Ben are the fifth generation of the Absolom family to farm at Rissington where their family has been working the land northwest of Napier since the late 1880s.

During that time they’ve developed a proud history in the area but are not content to leave it at that, keeping a close eye on the future, seeking out and adopting the latest technology and science to put them in front of challenges facing farmers at the grassroots and the industry as a whole. . .

Duck-shooters await season’s starting gun – Molly Houseman:

It will be game on for duck-shooting next weekend.

Hunters across the South breathed a “sigh of relief” over the decision to begin a delayed 2020 bird game season on May 23, following the move into Level 2 on Thursday.

“Game bird hunting is a national tradition and many families see opening day as more sacred than Christmas,” Otago Fish & Game officer Nigel Pacey said.

The Level 2 announcement meant access to hunting grounds and mai mais by air, road or boat travel would be allowed.

Staying overnight would also be allowed as long as people “play it safe”. . . 

Busy Southland woman dairy finalist

Jessica Goodwright leads a busy life. Mrs Goodwright and her husband, Lyall, who have three children, farm at Drummond in Southland in a 50-50 sharemilking and equity partnership with another dairy farm in the region.

She is the Dairy Women’s Network regional leader for Central Southland and manages to find time to study for a diploma in agribusiness management through Primary ITO and is now on her final paper.

Her grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts earned her becoming a finalist in the Dairy Women’s Network’s new DWN regional leader of the year. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Poppy Renton’s Hawke’s Bay Drought rural Facebook page a ‘lifesaver’

Nineteen-year old Poppy Renton says the lockdown has impacted farmers on a number of fronts. The Maraekakaho-based founder of the now acclaimed Facebook page Hawke’s Bay Drought tells Mark Story the initiative has helped to galvanise a hurting farming community.

What was the spark for the Facebook page?
I wanted to create a space where farmers could have support, provide advice, communicate and share their stories with one another. I also wanted to make New Zealanders aware of what farming conditions are like in Hawke’s Bay at the moment and how dire the situation actually is. I wanted to make farmers aware that, even though we were in lockdown, they aren’t alone. It might not be in person, but there’s someone going through the same thing just down the road.

How’s the uptake so far?
When I made the page I thought only a few people would join and had no idea how fast it would grow. I hoped for 500 people, but that happened on day two, with 882 reached.
I did not expect it to get to 3500 in 11 days.  . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2020

Queues for meat plant space grow :

Meat companies Silver Fern Farms and Alliance report a dramatic lift in livestock numbers waiting to be processed as their plants are down to half capacity under covid-19 rules.

In a note to its suppliers Silver Fern Farms said queue times at its 14 plants have extended exponentially as suppliers book early to avoid congestion and because of colder weather and diminished feed.

Suppliers might be waiting three to six weeks for space, depending on stock class and region. 

An Alliance update to its co-operative members estimates several weeks’ backlog, with processing down to about 30% for beef. . . 

Famously scenic Arcadia Station sold

A Queenstown farmer has bought a scenic rural property near Glenorchy, famous as a setting for TV commercials and films like The Lord of the Rings, for an undisclosed price.

The 257ha Arcadia Station, bordered by Diamond Lake, Mount Aspiring National Park and Dart River and the Paradise property, has been farmed for 60 years by Jim Veint (83), who in turn bought it off his father, Lloyd.

Mr Veint will continue assisting with the farming operation and help recruit and train a new farm manager. . . 

Beware of false prophets – The Veteran:

There have been calls for ‘value added’ to be the driver for our export industry as long as I can remember.    Much of that directed at the timber industry.   All well in theory.   Reality trumps (bad word) theory most times.

So let’s look at timber.   Some would argue the export of raw timber (logs) should be discouraged/banned in favor of the processed product.   That this would lead to an increased number of jobs in the industry particularly now with the economy predicted to contract. . . 

Support set up for farmers facing feed shortages :

Farming groups have set up advice and support for farmers facing shortages of stock feed as they head into winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries worked with the groups on the initiative which includes a feed budgeting service and farm systems advice.

Federated Farmers said drought, the cancellation of traditional stock sale forums and reduced processing capacity at meat works meant many farmers were carrying more stock than they anticipated going into winter.

This was putting a huge strain on already stretched feed resources and farmer morale. . . 

No spilt milk during lockdown – Molly Houseman:

Last Friday looked “bleak” for Holy Cow.

The family dairy farm in Reynoldstown, near Port Chalmers in Dunedin, lost about 70% of its customers as restaurants and cafes closed for the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and no longer needed their usual milk orders.

Owner Merrall MacNeille was left wondering: “What am I going to do with all this milk?”

However, business quickly took an unexpected turn. . . 

Rural Ambassador program brought a storm of opportunities – James Cleaver:

Is there anything better than hearing rain on the roof?

Or the smell that rolls in 10 minutes before a thunderstorm?

We all love rain for obvious reasons and let’s hope this small break gets bigger in the next few months.

Rain equals opportunity and options. It’s the tangent to allow things to grow to their full potential. . . 

 


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